my latest over at goldcoast.com.au:
YOUNG Gold Coast wannabe stand-up comedian Jordan Paris sparked a debate this week that went viral thanks to his alleged copying of another comic’s routine for his Australia’s Got Talent performance.
Some commenters said ‘oh so what, funny is funny’ — or a variant of it.
With all due respect, those people have completely missed the point.
Some said other performers on AGT sing cover versions of other peoples’ songs so why shouldn’t comics like Mr Paris ‘cover’ other comedians’ material.
The answer is intellectual property rights, or in simpler terms — a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Or even, credit where it’s due.
When an author writes a book and it is published, that author gets paid royalties for every copy that is sold. It’s usually between 10 and 13 per cent of the cover price.
When a songwriter writes a song and it is published, every time someone else plays that song — including radio stations — a fee must be paid to the songwriter.
When an amateur theatre group wants to put on a production of a play or musical that is still under copyright — say, Wicked — then that group must pay ‘performance rights’.
When an actor’s television show goes in to reruns, every time an episode in which he or she appears is replayed that actor gets paid ‘residuals’.
The same goes for comedians, who, if they aren’t writing their own material, are paying hard-earned money to someone to write them.
What Mr Paris did on Australia’s Got Talent was take money out of Lee Mack’s pocket. Money he is entitled to as the ‘creator’ of the material.
What Mr Paris did, in my opinion, is as heinous as a journalist copying another journalist’s material and claiming it as their own. And we all know the outrage when that kind of thing happens. Just take in an episode of Media Watch if you don’t believe me.
Royalties, residuals, performance rights _ whatever form these payments take _ are the only things that keep artists, musicians, writers, painters, actors, comedians, filmmakers and the rest of the creative arts in food and shelter.
You’ll gather this is close to my heart.
Copyright and intellectual property are huge issues in the media industry right now, because the internet has created massive changes to the way you, the reader, consumes news.
When you switch on your computer, go to Google, and click on ‘News’, you will be presented with a long list of links to news articles from multiple sources around the world.
Google, and other sites like it, are what is known as an `aggregator’. They collect together related links to news events and present them to you for free.
Do they pay for the ‘rights’ to those stories? No, they do not.
Is that fair to the journalists, subeditors, photographersa and designers who work to put that story together? I don’t believe so.
Does it present a danger to the future employment of journalists? Absolutely.
Mr Paris’ transgression is a small thing in the scheme of things, but it’s an indication that as a society we are becoming dangerously accustomed to not paying ‘creators’ for the sweat of their brow.
And what’s more, we seem to believe that having access to that ‘product’ is a right for which we shouldn’t have to pay.
And that is a slippery slope to a world where journalists are in short supply (and the truth along with that) and creative artists continue to starve in their garrets.